NFL Training Camp Battles: August 16
Sean Mitchell breaks down all of the training camp battles around the NFL and what they mean for fantasy football.
NFL training camps have now been in session for closing in on three weeks, and the stories and narratives couldn’t be flowing any harder! Last week we touched on a few of the major camp stories and battles, and this week we will delve into a few more that are a bit more intriguing around the league! Let’s talk Football!
DETROIT LIONS – RB Battle
A very interesting RB battle out of Detroit features the freshly drafted second-rounder out of Georgia in D’Andre Swift and third-year back out of Auburn, Kerryon Johnson . Kerryon is still pretty fresh off of his knee injury, and as you can see below, he has yet, and may not at all, shed the knee brace he wore when he returned to the NFL gridiron last December. As the tweet linked below shows, this is something we should definitely keep an eye on, as we know major knee injuries can plague a player’s career, and with a healthy, primed-and-ready Swift waiting in the wings, could the leash be a bit short for Kerryon Johnson for this 2020 NFL season? Many narrative tweets have swirled around this picture of Kerryon Johnson alone just this week, and the expectations seem to be high on Mr. Swift at the current moment, and his ADP (Average Draft Position) is also on a small rise as well.
The knee brace all but confirms that Kerryon doesn't have much confidence in the knee without it. Typically that's what athletes say when asked about why they wear a brace (Braces don't actually do much to prevent injuries) https://t.co/kPvbY2Wj0v— Edwin Porras, DPT (@FBInjuryDoc) August 15, 2020
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – RB Battle
Maybe one, if not the biggest stories for training camp, is the Kansas City Chiefs backfield. With the departure (or opt-out) of Damien Williams for the 2020 NFL season, it will leave a huge void to be filled for the Super Bowl Champs. At the current time, it is pretty clear that Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the front-runner for this backfield, but it is also worth noting that there was one other back that was also getting some run with the first team – Darwin Thompson.
As the tweet above shows, Thompson is absolutely getting in some work with starting QB Patrick Mahomes , even though all indications are pointing that he is the second-string back in this rotation. Now, this does pose the question, with Thompson, the touted darling of last offseason, already being in Andy Reid’s offense for a year now; does this help his cause? Can Edwards-Helaire and Thompson be looking at asomewhat of a RBBC approach to start the season? Or will it be a sole-position for CEH? At the current moment, and with Edward-Helaire’s ADP being in the top eight selections, one must ask is there any worry at all for any shared time with Darwin Thompson? How about DeAndre Washington , who is slotted as the third back in this rotation?
INDIANAOPLIS COLTS – RB Battle
After some mediocrity of Marlon Mack ’s tenure at the running back position for the year 2019 was spewed by the media, a lot of backlash has arisen over the last week after Mack was named and reported to be the “starter” for Frank Reich and the Colts backfield. All of the Jonathan Taylor truthers were not exactly fans of this, and it is still being deemed in their eyes that Taylor will be the evident, no-doubt, lead-back after about the first offensive series in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. Anyone saying that needs reminder of 1,100 yards rushing in 14 games with meager QB-play, averaging 4.4 YPC over his first three seasons, and also being listed as the 3rd highest-graded RB at a grade of 81.8 in the red zone since 2017, Mack needs to have a little respect put on his name, don’t we think? I mentioned this in my article from last week, even though the Colts did not extend Mack’s contract, and this is his final year on the contract slated to make over $2.1 million, does this mean he won’t be re-signed? Either way, this is a contract year, and I highly believe Marlon Mack will be an integral part of this offense for the 2020 NFL season once again, and with that said, his ADP of 91.7 is quite the value in my overall opinion. He knows the offense, his O-Line is too good for him to not be able to produce, and Mack has shown “work-horse” features since entering the league.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM – RB Battle
Lots of names are circulating in contention to be the “guy” for this Washington Football Team. Everyone has been so eagerly quick to jump on 35-year old Adrian Peterson as the guy to have for this backfield. However, is this what we should believe? With the release of Derrius Guice after multiple domestic abuse allegations, who was slotted to be the “guy” for Washington after returning off injury near the end of last season, this will open up lots of time for an offense that loves to run the football. Peterson is currently listed as the top option in this backfield, but, can he be overtaken by the likes of second-year Stanford stud Bryce Love, who was plagued by injuries during 2019, but is back to full-health with good reports out of training camp so far? How about newly drafted, 66th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft out of Memphis, a WR/RB agile combination, Antonio Gibson? How about freshly-signed Peyton Barber , who started seven games for the Buccaneers last season, toting the rock 154 times for 470 yards and six TDs? This backfield has a lot of questions, and although it sounds like a fantasy-mess, could there be some diamond-type value in the rough here in a guy like Bryce Love or Antonio Gibson? What about the basically free-in-drafts, Peyton Barber ? Should be an interesting one to watch unfold for the 2020 NFL season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – RB Battle
Okay, this one really likely isn’t much of a battle per say, however, we know how many times starting running back Aaron Jones was used in the red zone last season and not just for rushing, but for targets as well. With the circulation of AJ Dillion’s picture floating around the internet from camp, the biggest question, and I mean biggest, is will he take away any of those red zone carries from Jones? He is a big-body back at 6’0, and 247 lbs., and the picture tweeted last week shows every single bit of that (See below). However, another back, much like Marlon Mack , who had a running back drafted by their team this season that could vie for time, Jones is looking at a contract year after not being extended by the Packers past 2020. Jones is set to make over $2.1 million, similar to Mack, which is his biggest pay-year by far, and will look to become an UFA in 2021.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM – QB Battle
A recent story that popped up last week and could be a pretty major story heading into the 2020 NFL season, former starting quarterback Alex Smith has been cleared for all football activities and is ready to take the field again. We know how much of a struggle this Washington team had last year at QB with guys like Case Keenum , and then when the job was turned over to Dewayne Haskins, it wasn’t exactly kosher one would say. This has to throw a wrench into things with a QB like Alex Smith hitting the fold after his gruesome leg injury that some thought would be a career-ending injury for him. This is not only a huge step for Smith, but this could also turn into quite the battle for the starting job for Smith once again. Could the mentor that was signed to be the starting QB, once again regain his starting role over second-year QB Haskins? Reports have been good for Haskins so far, so this will be one to watch for sure. See below, as Alex Smith is painted with water guns by his family after being cleared for football activities. A joyous day for the Smith family, and the Washington Football team, who is set to pay Smith a whopping $16 million for the 2020 season, and still has three potential years left on his contract before becoming a UFA in 2023.
CHICAGO BEARS – QB Battle
With the addition of Nick Foles via trade from the Jaguars to push for the starting job over Mitchell Trubisky , many are asking just how many games will it take before Foles is the starter, OR better yet, will Foles be THE starter for Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season? Head Coach Matt Nagy, and GM Ryan Pace have both termed this situation to be an open competition between Foles and Mitchell for the starting job. Foles gave up a lot of guaranteed money to restructure his contract to instead gain the $21 million he was due as dead cap, into a string of three-years spread across in his new contract for the Bears. He wanted to be under Nagy, and he wanted a chance at a starting gig. We all saw how much Trubisky struggled last season, and it was not what the Bears were hoping for when they drafted him as the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, after the Bears traded away the number 3, 67, and 111th picks, as well as the 2018 third-round pick, to the Niners to move up to the 2nd pick to get their guy. This should be a very interesting battle going into the 2020 season and will be one to keep an eye on.